Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) has hailed the newly introduced bypass fee, where patients going to referral hospitals without reference from their local health centres are asked to pay a fee, saying it is achieving its intended purpose.
The bypass fee, pegged at K1 500, was introduced to reduce congestion at central hospitals and maximise funds for maintenance.
Speaking in an interview yesterday, Ngoma said many people, especially those from within Lilongwe City, have welcomed the service.
He said: “There has been positive impact. Some people even feel the K1 500 they pay is nothing compared to the treatment they get. This is because they trust the services provided. Thus, a lot of people are willing to stand in the queue and pay for treatment.”
Besides the bypass fee service, Ngoma said major hospitals are also running private paying services to maximise revenue.
Said Ngoma: “To ensure accountability, we have identified and trained staff to collect the bypass payments and issue government receipts to the patients.”
Representing Mdum, Dr Ken Kumwenda said by introducing the user fees in hospitals, government has demonstrated that it understands the challenges the health sector is currently facing which include shortage of drugs and other medical supplies.
Said Kumwenda: “Malawi should not continue to operate below minimum standards. It is high time we embraced changes in the way our health system is run, and this development though long overdue, could not have come at a better time.”